The Central and Eastern European Energy Security Forum: “Perspectives on Energy Security”
On February 13, 2013, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted the first in a series of seminars as part of the Central and Eastern European Energy Security Forum project. The event, which took place in Warsaw, was launched by introductory speeches from Michał Baranowski and Thomas Legge, Senior Program Officers with GMF Warsaw and Brussels offices.
The seminar was conducted in a roundtable setting of two panels. The first panel focused on the blessings and curses of geography, was moderated by Michał Baranowski, and featured Dr. Corey Johnson, Mr. Paweł Świedoba and Prof. Pavel Baev as speakers. Dr. Corey Johnson, Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of North Carolina, was first to speak about the notions of geopolitics and energy security. He underscored the influence of those concepts on policy-making, and elaborated on the idea of energy security. According to Dr. Johnson the discourse surrounding this idea changed considerably from a geopolitical one to that of national security. He remarked that the policy discussion regarding energy production is being securitized, and that its focus lies less on the benefits for the economy and society, and more on national security.
The second panelist, Paweł Świeboda, President of demosEUROPA - Center for European Strategy, spoke about the Polish perspective of energy security and its significance as a tool to reach other objectives. He mentioned four dimensions of this tool: sovereignty and the perception that energy security epitomizes residual sovereignty left in the hands of the EU Member States; foreign policy: energy security as a tool for Poland in its larger effort to influence the EU’s view of Russia; climate policy and the way Poland has used energy security as a tool to fight the more ambitious EU climate policy; and the domestic energy sector, where the discussion about energy security played a role in fossilizing the energy sector and the way it has been managed and structured.
The third and last panelist of the first session was Professor Pavel Baev, Research Professor at Peace Research Institute in Oslo, who focused on geography and politics of energy of the Russian Federation. Prof. Baev explained that Russia has based its pattern of action on its natural geographic conditions and has always aimed at making its situation as stable as possible through the construction of pipelines or by signing long-term export contracts. This pattern of action in the Russian mindset, coupled with Russia being the largest energy producer and exporter, linked the notion of energy security to the idea of an energy superpower. The reality has changed however – the number of energy suppliers has expanded greatly, and Russian leadership is very slowly beginning to recognize this change. The crisis of 2008/2009 also affected the self-perception of energy superpower, and in this context Russia can no longer rely on oil and gas exports as a solution to all its problems. According to Prof. Baev this context shows President Putin’s disappointment in Gazprom and its invalidity as a political instrument. In turn, Prof. Baev sees President Putin’s focus shifting from the energy sector to reindustrialization and the revival of the defense industrial complex.
Panel two moderated by Thomas Legge focused on how markets, policy, and new supply options contribute to regional energy security, and featured Mr. Tim Boersma, Ms. Malgorzata Mika-Bryska and Mr. Douglas Uchikura as the speakers. First to speak was Mr. Boersma, a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen. The focus of his intervention was on the internal energy market of the EU. Firstly, Mr. Boersma addressed the issue of interconnectedness of the European energy market. He argued that although there are always potential risks for energy supply disruptions, the real risk is the lack of adequate infrastructure and interconnectedness of the EU energy market, which would enable the flow of energy resources throughout the European Union. He also emphasized the fact that there is plenty of gas within the EU, but the problem is that its flow is only possible east to west, and not vice versa. Mr. Boersma also touched upon further impediments to the internal energy market of the EU, such as financing of infrastructure and legislative issues that need to be addressed.
Ms. Małgorzata Mika-Bryska, Deputy Director of the Department of Energy at the Polish Ministry of Economy, was second on the panel, and focused on elements of security of supply. Ms. Mika-Bryska defined generation adequacy, capacity mechanism, stimulation of investment in generation, and compatibility of policy with the internal market concept as issues additional to infrastructural problems that need to be addressed to complete the internal market. She warned that security policy should not be created without thinking about pure economy. Speaking about environmental standards, Ms. Mika-Bryska underscored that a CO2 reduction policy in Poland and in the EU will be of value only if third countries, such as the United States, China, India, Brazil, and partially Russia, which are the heaviest polluters, will also engage in similar policy planning.
Third and last panelist of the discussion was Mr. Douglas Uchikura, Deputy Director for Onshore Europe at Chevron, who presented the industry perspective of the energy sector. Mr. Uchikura spoke of the challenges a producer of energy faces, and that is to address relevant, though often conflicting, interests and be able to move forward in a positive and economic way. Mr. Uchikura also explained the challenge of operating in the energy sector in Poland and said that defining a policy without implementing it is insufficient to achieve results. He stressed that converting dialogue into action and into regulatory changes is critical to possibly improving Poland’s negotiating position in the energy arena.
Closing remarks of the seminar were delivered by Ambassador Keith C. Smith, who is a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Smith stressed the need for greater European cooperation on energy, as the West and Central Eastern parts of Europe have very diverging perspectives of the energy sector. Ambassador Smith also alluded to the lack of sufficient transparency in Europe and stressed its necessity, as well as the need for more cooperation, as compensation for the missing common energy policy in Europe.